The Lewis Center’s Academy for Academic Excellence (AAE) waited for an Air Force Junior ROTC (AFJROTC) unit for five years. AAE did not consider having AFJROTC until USAF Colonel (Retired) George Armstrong began teaching here. He pushed for an AFJROTC unit and even submitted AAE’s first application to the USAF in the year 2000. The school probably would have been awarded an AFJROTC unit in the fall of 2001; however, the events of 9/11 changed that. Following 9/11, the USAF stopped funding new AFJROTC units, and AAE remained on a waiting list, not unlike the waiting list of students wanting to attend AAE. In late 2004, funding was restored for new JROTC units in 2005, 2006, and 2007. On June 26, 2006, the Air Force called Mr. Rick Piercy, CEO of the Lewis Center, and offered AAE an AFJROTC unit for the 2006-2007 school year. He accepted and the AAE AFJROTC unit CA-20068 formally activated on January 16, 2007.
The letters of AFJROTC stand for Air Force Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps. The AFJROTC mission is to develop citizens of character dedicated to serving their nation and community. AFJROTC cadets are educated and trained in citizenship; they are taught to serve the community; they develop responsibility, high moral character, and self-discipline. The USAF supports this effort free of charge to students in grades 9-12 by providing uniforms, equipment, funding, and instructors to the AAE.
AFJROTC participation has no obligation whatsoever to join the military. AFJROTC is a great opportunity for AAE students to take a look at the military lifestyle with no strings attached. The only obligation is willingness to proudly wear the USAF uniform to school at least once a week.
Good things do happen to those who wait patiently. AAE started up a JROTC unit in the middle of a school year - a very rare feat indeed - with 38 cadets - now there are over 100! Over one fourth of the AAE high school student population is enrolled in AFJROTC. Since 2007, AAE AFJROTC has earned countless awards as the only charter school in California (and one of only three charter schools worldwide) with an AFJROTC unit. Some of these awards include: two AFJROTC Distinguished Unit Awards; two AFJROTC Distinguished Unit with Merit